SCIE Knowledge review 13: Outcomes-focused services for older people

By Caroline Glendinning, Sue Clarke, Phillipa Hare, Inna Kotchetkova, Jane Maddison and Liz Newbronner

Published: January 2007

This knowledge review includes a review of research evidence on the outcomes valued by older people and a practice survey that aims to identify the factors that facilitate and inhibit achieving desired outcomes. It also contains a postal survey of localities and social services managers in England and Wales known to be interested in developing outcomes-focused approaches to older people's services; and in-depth studies in six localities.

Key messages

The factors that older people identify as central to their independence and well-being can be categorised as three types of outcome

Outcomes involving change

Outcomes involving maintenance or prevention

Service process outcomes

These refer to the ways that services are accessed and delivered and include:

Evidence shows that many of the outcomes desired by older people do not, on the face of it, appear to be derived from interventions that currently fall within the remit of social care services. There is also evidence that practitioners and services tend to focus on ‘change’ outcomes, while older people place a higher value on maintenance and prevention outcomes.

Factors reported as helping an outcomes approach

Factors hindering the development of an outcomes approach


For a long time older people have been passive recipients of social care services. The provision of services has also been led by what was available rather than by what outcomes older people wanted. The Department of Health white paper Our health, our care, our say highlighted the need for services for all people, including older people, to be outcomes-focused.


The knowledge review aimed to identify:

'Outcomes' are defined as the impact, or end-results, of services on a person's life; therefore outcomes-focused services are those that aim to achieve the priorities that service users themselves identify as important.


This knowledge review is intended for use by SCIE as the basis of further work on outcomes-focused services for older people. It will also be useful to other organisations with an interest in this area.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Outcomes-focused services for older people
  • Outcomes-focused services for older people: Summary
  • Outcomes-focused services for older people: Welsh summary